Backed Up and No Where to Go

Missouri’s Drain Surgeons jet through grease and debris, freeing up restaurant’s sewer lines.
Backed Up and No Where to Go
An O’Brien 3500 Series trailer jetter was used to flush the lines.

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With stockings hung by the chimney and the holiday season in full swing, Benji Grimes, operations manager for Drain Surgeons LLC, received a call at about 8 p.m. from a fine dining establishment in a Wildwood, Missouri, shopping center.

The restaurant’s drain and sewer lines were backing up, creating a health hazard and leaving guests without restroom facilities. Faced with closure if the problem wasn’t immediately rectified, Grimes determined a vacuum truck and water jetter would be needed to clear the lines.

Within the hour, a three-member team joined Grimes at the restaurant site. What they found were 10-inch lines packed with grease. Although equipped with interceptors, Grimes says problems occur when they aren’t cleaned on a regular basis.

Grease forces its way into the lines, where it begins to coagulate and stick to the pipe walls.

“If that grease is built up on the pipe walls, 360 degrees around the diameter of the inside of the pipe, it starts closing off,” he says.

As restrooms are used, waste material becomes blocked or caught up on the grease until it creates a dam, completely blocking the pipe.

“It happens all the time to restaurants all over the city — it’s very common,” Grimes says. “But when they back up, it gets pretty intense. People get excited.”

To tackle the problem, Grimes and the Drain Surgeons team brought in a 2004 Ford vacuum truck (2,500-gallon capacity) with Moro PM80T pump to remove the grease and water mixture until the incoming and outgoing lines in the manhole became visible.

An O’Brien 3500 Series trailer jetter with 2,200 psi/35 gpm flow and 3/4-inch hose was used to flush the lines.

Drain Surgeons uses a two-man crew to run the jetter. The second technician serves as a competent person in case something unexpected, such as a hose break, occurs. He also helps with traffic control, keeping curious onlookers away from the open manhole.

“A lot of companies will chance it and go with a one-man crew,” Grimes says. “But at our company we’ve never done that. We always fall on the side of safety and caution when it comes to running high-end equipment like this.”

Grimes estimates his team remained on site until about 2 a.m., ensuring the lines were clean and flowing properly.

“The restaurant manager was extremely pleased with our response time and that we were able to get the problem resolved,” Grimes says.

Since the emergency call, a regular preventive maintenance schedule has been established.

“That’s one of the things our company has built a good reputation on,” Grimes says. “We’ll come in, find out why there was a blockage or problem, evaluate, and then offer suggestions to prevent it from happening again. Rather than being reactionary, we like to give our clients options to be preventive so it doesn’t cost them downtime or their reputation, as far as their customers are concerned.”


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